Wrapping up our Hawaiian holiday with a taste of Japan

Day 10

On our second Friday in Hawaii, we had the alarm set for 8:00 AM. My wife couldn’t get out of bed so early so I went to Hanauma Bay all by myself. It was well worth the effort and the cost, about $24.50 I think – $5 for the round trip bus fare, $7.50 for admission to Hanauma Bay Park, and $12 to rent snorkeling gear. I had brought my own lunch and water so I saved a bit there. I think I spent about 5 or 6 hours in the park, alternating between snorkeling and reading on the beach (actually on the grass behind the beach where I found a patch of shade).

The snorkeling was good although the water was so shallow in places that it took a lot of work not to touch the coral. I saw some real colorful fish, some real big fish, and some really big colorful fish. Lots of blue, purple, and yellow. I also made some friends on the bus ride there – a couple who I saw again later that night and learned they’re in the same hotel as me plus a few Japanese college students. It seems you see a lot of Japanese women in Hawaii who came with their girlfriends but you rarely see groups of Japanese guys visiting Hawaii. It reminds me of Seoul where you see women going out with their friends all the time while men stay home or in the bar unless they’re with their girlfriends.

That night we went to Fatty’s Chinese Kitchen for the second time. We made some more friends there, a couple from Jamestown NY, before heading to Starbucks to get online.

Day 11

Today was a decision making day since our time in Hawaii is coming to an end. We have lots we haven’t done. We could rent a car and drive to Kailua and Lanikai and maybe Manoa Falls. We could spend $60 each or more for the Polynesian Cultural Center. Or we could just relax as much as possible on Waikiki Beach. I like swimming in the calm ocean waters and reading on the beach. We decided to stick around Waikiki.

And that’s what we did today. Nothing special to write about – swimming, reading, lunch at the Cheesecake Factory (may not sound exotic but we don’t have them in Korea), and a couple of free performances of Hawaiian music.

Day 12

Sunday was much like Saturday, just relaxing on the beach. Swimming, reading, music on the beach. We weren’t sad that we had decided not to rent a car and explore some other beaches. Sure they came highly recommended but I’ll just have to do it next time. Lunch was at a sushi place just near the beach that was good.

Day 13

Our last full day in Hawaii. Mostly beach time, one last sunset over Waikiki, one last meal at Fatty’s Chinese. We decided not to go looking at Honolulu apartments. The weather might be fine and we loved the food. Plus I would love to start off each day with a swim in the ocean. But we’re looking at $1500/month for a studio near Waikiki and the same for a 500 square foot, one bedroom place that’s not walking distance to the ocean. The condo my wife liked was 400k for 700 square feet plus a 700 square foot lanai. Sounds nice actually, except the condo fees were $1,000 a month so it’s like buying and paying rent at the same time.

Day 14

The morning we spent getting ready and at 10:00 we took our shuttle to the airport. TSA was, as you might expect, slow and inefficient so we waited about an hour on a short line before they confiscated my two little cans of protein pudding and sent us on our way. It tasted horrible, the sugar free protein pudding, but I missed it anyway because it cost me $6.00 and high protein diets are supposed to be good for you.

“We have to take this.”

“It’s pudding.”

“It’s liquid or aerosol consistency.”

“It’s pudding.”

“It’s not allowed.”

We had the option of leaving security, checking it with the airline, and then coming back through. No thanks. I should have realized, of course, that pudding would not be allowed since big tubes of toothpaste are also trouble even though I wouldn’t call them liquids either. Luckily, my hummus sandwich got though so I still had something to eat instead of fast food as I waited to board my flight. I would have said humus and pudding were about the same on my chart of closeness to liquid but whatever.

After the TSA took my pudding, I was reminded of all those people who want special treatment. Like Miss USA who says she’s obviously not a terrorist threat. Or the people who say the elderly and kids are obviously not threats so no searching diapers and such. I could fall into the same line of thinking – I know I’m no threat. And I know my protein pudding isn’t dangerous to anyone, not even in a food fight. But if TSA makes an exception for me or Miss USA or anyone then I think there’s a problem. Not that I’m defending their stupid rules – just arguing that the rules need to be enforced on all.

The ten hour flight to Japan went by fairly quickly, despite the 5 babies in the row in front of us. We got the bus from Kansai Airport to Namba, arriving at about 7:30. The love motels overnight rate is for 8:00 PM check in and 12:00 PM check out – perfect for our schedule. We paid just under 6,000 yen for our room.Whirlpool style bathtub from which you can watch TV (though it may not surprise you that 2 of 15 channels are porn), and a karaoke machine! After some confusion about how to lock the door (the front desk does it by computer on your way out – no key or anything and it doesn’t lock automatically like most hotels in the US) we went to the Dotombori area in search of food.

We enjoyed the strangeness of Japan. We had seen some boys, middle school I’d guess but maybe high school, practicing some dance moves that involved holding a light stick in each hand. Lots of women wearing short skirts and knee high socks with no leggings. We were wearing jeans, sweaters, and windbreakers, having decided not to bring winter coats. I was fine but my wife said she was freezing in the 40 degree weather. I actually quite liked the chill. Maybe living in Hawaii where it’s always 80 is not for me.

One guy from California who we had asked for directions had suggested Sex Machine. This turned out to be a Korean barbecue restaurant. We’ll be in Korea soon enough and my wife’s a vegetarian anyway so we passed on Sex Machine and found a sushi place where only locals were eating. They had no English menu so that made it fun too. My wife ordered the cheapest set menu while I ordered the most expensive. My wife ate the expensive sushi while I ate the cheap sushi. Not really, since she shared. And in most cases we didn’t see why one would be $30 and the other $10. But they were different. The cheap had a cooked shrimp. The pricey had a raw shrimp with the skin or exoskeleton or whatever it is placed neatly next to it. Expensive came with fatty tuna while cheap came with regular tuna, The expensive one came with some weird fish eggs we had never tried before.

We continued to walk around Dotombori after dinner. My wife got some Starbucks, including a limited edition Osaka tumbler. Buying a tumbler in Japan nets you a free a drink so instead of 1200 yen it’s more like 800 yen. We enjoyed the colors of Namba – the huge moving octopus on one restaurant, the dragon on another, the hand holding a piece of sushi on a third, and so on.

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  1. Sharon says:

    Much too expensive to live there…whether you like sushi or not (I don’t). The weather and the beaches are a plus, but you can find the same conditions on the Caribbean coast, or the islands. Renting or buying would be much less, and you can buy inexpensive local fresh produce and seafood at the markets. Every village/town has one or more. The amount of money you would save on living expenses could then be used for travel elsewhere to enjoy the changes in season if you grow tired of year round summer weather.

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